Page last updated at 13:45 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 14:45 UK

Doctors bid to ease public fears

St John's Hospital
A letter has been issued from doctors at St John's Hospital

Doctors have tried to reassure the public that St John's Hospital "is a safe environment in which to receive medical treatment".

The move follows a letter written in March by junior doctors at the West Lothian hospital warning of a potential disaster because of staff shortages.

That letter, signed by 17 medics and passed to BBC Scotland, claimed the Livingston hospital was overloaded.

Now eight of those doctors have signed a clarification letter.

A total of 22 doctors and consultants have put their names to the second letter, which is dated Wednesday and which was passed to the BBC on Thursday.

We have already met with the middle grade doctors since this letter was written some time ago and all of the issues raised have now been addressed
Simon MacKenzie
NHS Lothian

The second letter stated: "The middle-grade staff and consultant physicians believe that actions are in hand to address the issues raised and wish to reassure the public in West Lothian that St John's Hospital is a safe environment in which to receive medical treatment.

"They can be reassured of the continuing commitment of the medical staff, both senior and junior to provide high quality care."

The first letter, which was leaked to the BBC on Wednesday, listed a series of complaints and said the hospital had too few medical staff.

As a result, they said they were finding it hard to treat accident and emergency cases within the government target of four hours.

The doctors complained that meant cases were having to be dealt with based on how long patients had been waiting, rather than the seriousness of their condition.

However, NHS Lothian, said the concerns had now been cleared up.

Operating effectively

Simon MacKenzie, NHS Lothian associate medical director, said: "We have already met with the middle-grade doctors since this letter was written some time ago and all of the issues raised have now been addressed.

"This letter was written as a vital contribution to a review of emergency care at St John's. It took into account European Working Time regulations and other factors.

"As a result of the review, three additional staff, a Staff Grade Doctor and two nurse practitioners, are being recruited to provide additional cover and support. All other suggestions are in the process of being implemented.

"There are more doctors and nurses working in St John's than ever before and NHS Lothian has stood by its commitment to ensure its position as a leading acute hospital."

However Linlithgow MSP Mary Mulligan has called on Cabinet Secretary for health, Nicola Sturgeon, to take action and reassure West Lothian residents and patients of St John's Hospital that the hospital is operating effectively.

Ms Mulligan said: "The Cabinet Secretary for Health needs to respond urgently to myself and the constituents who have contacted me and offer guarantees that the level of health care at St John's Hospital is of a high standard.

"I have spoken to managers at St John's and they say any concerns raised in the letter have already been addressed. I will be meeting with Managers and Junior Doctors as soon as possible so I can see that is correct."

Print Sponsor

Doctors warn of 'dangerous' care
17 Jun 09 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific